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US craft exports surge

By thirsty hack Ignatius Rake

Posted March 26, 2014
us craft export growth
Pump up the volume: American craft proving popular abroad. © BA

The international market for US craft beer enjoyed "significant expansion" last year, buoyed on by rocketing demand from Canada, Europe and East Asia.

The US Brewers Association (BA) reports that export volumes of American craft beer ballooned in by 50%1 last year, reaching a record 282,526 barrels (33.7m litres) and clocking up an estimated value of $73m (£44.2m).

According to a BA press release citing the findings of a recently completed industry survey, Canada remained the largest export market for these brews, with shipments last year skyrocketing 93% to 131,511 barrels, 46.5% of total foreign consignments.

At the same time, exports to the next two largest markets, viz Sweden and the UK, rose by 15.5% and 7.9%, respectively, with demand from Western Europe as a whole up 46%.

Fourth-placed Australia and fifth-placed Japan, meanwhile, notched up corresponding growth rates of 5.4% and 3.2%.

While exports to Brazil increased by 12%, Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) saw consumption jump 74% to reach 44,228 barrels, "largely due to emerging markets, such as Singapore (up 379%), Hong Kong (up 150%) and Thailand (up 99%)".

"Exports of American craft beer continue to expand in the international market, reflecting craft brewing's overall success as an industry," says BA chief operating officer Bob Pease, adding that "new distribution agreements for US breweries throughout Europe and Asia" are also "helping to grow exports".

"This sustained growth is a testament to the innovation of small and independent American craft brewers and the enthusiasm of beer drinkers internationally," he continues.

"With more beer exported around the world, the challenge now is to ensure that beer quality is preserved in all cases so consumers are assured a positive experience."

This, Pease says, "is an area of focus" for the BA and its Export Development Program (EDP), which, initiated in 2004 with funds from the US Department of Agriculture's Market Access Program (USDA MAP), generates exposure for American craft beer through inter alia trade fairs, beer festivals, seminars, media outreach and competitions.

"Expanding the footprint of American craft beers internationally is an important goal for small and independent craft brewers," Eric Wallace, president and co-founder of Left Hand Brewing Company and chair of the BA's EDP committee, states.

"We are thrilled to see the increasing appreciation of and demand for American craft beer in markets outside of the US."

"The EDP will continue to promote American craft beers through its focus on quality and diversity to ensure they flourish abroad over the long term."

News of the current export boom comes shortly after the BA announced that the country's craft brewers upped their showing on the overall US beer market last year from 6.5% to 7.8%, with craft beer sales rising 20.2% to reach an estimated $14.3bn.

See also A "stellar year" for craft beer, posted 19/3/14.

Ignatius Rake
is a freelance journalist and geographer who has visited more than 70 countries on six continents. A published lyricist, he has fronted punk bands in both the UK and Poland, including the only band ever to be kicked off BBC Radio Cornwall. In 2013, he represented the UK at the Fourth Annual Smoke's Poutinerie World Poutine Eating Championship in Toronto, coming an abysmal last and getting his arse royally whipped by Rake & Herald reader and world speedscarfing supremo Joey 'Jaws' Chestnut. He has been known to like a pint.


1) The press release actually says 49% but the infographic (you can download a hi-res version here) says 50%. Likewise, the same press release says exports to Canada grew by 92% and those to Asia-Pacific (ex-Japan) by 73% and not 93% and 74% as stated on the infographic. However, we've gone with the infographic in an attempt to not look like we can't read. Nevertheless, the Rake & Herald has now contacted the BA for clarification and is currently awaiting its reply.

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